An international team of spies has been assembled. Jackson, from the USA; Tucker, from Australia; Ilsa, from Russia; Claire, from Britain; and Pierre, from Europe. Their commander, a man with the head of an Eagle. Their mission, stop evil in its tracks wherever they find it- and kill Hitler. I had a chat with co-creator Dario Russo about the origins of the world’s greatest spy team: DANGER 5.
What the origins of Danger 5?
Myself and (co-writer and co-creator) David Ashby had an interest in ‘Men’s Adventure’ magazines, they were kind of pre-Playboy Playboy, that included nudey pinups as well as short stories. More often than not they depicted World War II, but in a sort of fantasy scenario that was incredibly far removed from reality. They had these fantastic illustrated covers, that’d had something like a muscular nazi whipping and scantily clad ally- that sort of thing. We’d looked at a lot of these covers, and we were enamoured by the idea of making this fantasy version of World War II, but in a 60′s and 70′s aesthetic rather than a contemporary one. We used the idea of the team to build our world around based on our love of things like The Power Rangers and the Japanese Super Sentai series.
Danger 5 is a show with a lot of blood and special effects, and it’s all down in a fairly low-budget way. How much of that came from trying to date the show, and how much came from budget constraints?
We were absolutely set on creating a motif of physical effects, so there was no chance we were going to use cg or any other modern special effects. I’m really into the use of models as well, I just prefer having tangible things, so it was a combination of artistic direction and budget restraints all the way through. We wanted to create a very handmade feel for everything. For example we used a very scarlet shade of blood, to keep more in theme with that retro aesthetic- we were going for a Dario Argento sort of thing rather than a modern, grimy, thriller kind of blood.
When you shooting the effects and the miniatures shots, was it difficult to figure out what worked? Did you have any help from some of the old guard special effects guys?
The show was made in South Australia, and unfortunately there’s no database to find people who could work across the board with the effects we were dealing with. We found some very talented model makers, and we all worked together to figure out the best way to get what we were after. There was huge collaboration between the model makers, builders and our special effects guy Mark Hollowell. It was constant problem solving process, figuring out new ways to make the shots look like the movies we all really liked. There was no single wizard who knew all the answers straight away.
One of the things I was suprised by was how much foriegn language was in the show. SBS viewers probably won’t mind since they’re used to reading subtitles, but writing dialogue in a language that’s not your own offer any challanges?
Over the course of the show’s production I picked up a few German and Russian words, the meaning of which I’m still a bit in the dark about. I speak Italian, poorly, and that’s pretty much the extent of my multi-lingual ability. The way we got around it was that we’d scripted all the dialogue in English, it was performed on set in English, then we dubbed it over with the appropriate language. The exception to that was Natasa Ristic who’s originally from Serbia. She learned all her lines in Russian and them translated by a Russian actor. Generally speaking though we just dubbed them over, and that fit into the feel we were going for.
If people watching the show want to see some of the work that inspired Danger 5, where should they go to look for more spy action?
All of the Sean Connery Bond films, they were integral to the writing. The 60′s Godzilla movies, Godzilla Destory All Monsters is a great one. Also some of the 60′s war movies like Kelly’s Heroes and Where Eagles Dare, they were gave a lot to the feel of the show as well.
In the six episodes that you’ve done Danger 5 are on a quest to kill Hitler. Could these characters suvive through to the Cold War? Maybe fight some Russians?
You never know, they survive right through to the end, so God knows what happens to them afterwards.
Words: William Godfrey